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What’s the point of an auto show?

On the morning of Tuesday, March 26th, hosts Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan pulled the wraps off the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro on their eponymous morning talk show, mere hours before the start of the 2014 New York Auto Show. Across town, and on the same day, Cadillac unveiled the CTS—arguably the most anticipated car of the show—at a private event in the Frederick P. Rose Hall in Midtown. (They might not have needed to, anyway: photos leaked a day early.) Audi previewed its 2015 A3 and S3 sedans—cars that won’t go on sale until next summer, but that’s a rant for a different day—that evening, and for one night only! The two cars didn’t even squish the tiles on Audi’s stage the next day, which was probably convenient as Audi chose to skip a lavish press conference. It did have plenty of Warsteiner on tap, however.

Then the auto show began anew on a beautiful East Coast morning as journalists streamed in to the Javits Center by taxi and train and subway and chauffeured Land Rover and rickshaw and tramp steamer, bleak and bleary-eyed and in perpetual search of coffee, ready to spend the next two days writing about new cars that have already been announced. And after 6 Starbucks Venti lattes and about 3 plates of deep-fried crab cakes (the chosen hors d’oeuvres of New York, apparently) later, the one incessant, nagging question floated across our minds, and into the ether: if everything’s been unveiled, previewed, and leaked already, why even have an auto show?

Yes, why have an auto show? Why fly across the country to rehash the same press releases, attend the same precisely choreographed press conferences, talk to PR teams who mete out the exact amount of information they were briefed to say, and see the same cars that had clawed their way out of an errant email attachment? Why bother having an unveil if the car will merely be shown the day before to a handful of specially-invited journalists—out of the thousands, internationally, that attend these things—and will be across the Internet by morning? The surprise, the furtive secret, is what we talk about in hushed and reverent tones of auto shows past: Citroën in Paris in 1955, Lamborghini at Geneva in 1966, Dodge in Detroit in 1989, Holden in Sydney in 2005. We miss those days, we hanker for the romance, we want our minds blown, we want to interview a brash CEO like Bob Lutz, but we’ll never get those back.

But most of all, we just miss the surprise.

There were some surprised, truth be told. Subaru showed off a WRX concept that managed to break away from its proud tradition of ugliness but will fortunately disappoint when it enters production, burdened as it will be with platform readjusting, gawky proportions, and door handles. Chevrolet followed up on the Camaro with exactly what the world needed: a faster version, stripped-out and barely street legal, with a Corvette Z06 engine and one speaker—exactly like the one buried in the backyard behind your uncle Jimbo’s house. Natty Boh sold separately. Not that GM would condone drinking and driving; and besides, nobody at the New York Auto Show was driving except for the fresh-faced youths in golf carts that were shuttling journalists from the media center across the Javits Center, so encumbered were they with traversing the elephantine hall with cameras and notepads and laptops and battery packs in tow, like Hannibal across the Alps.

But that was about it for genuine whoa that came out of left field, time to tweet with lots of hashtags surprises. The WRX leaked on Tuesday, two days before its unveil, an occurrence so common it’s practically built into the auto show schedule, and sometimes even "leaked" by carmakers themselves. They haven’t found out that that’s, uh, usually called a "preview." Surprises are tough to pull off, leaks are inevitable, and the Internet gives us the ability to hunt for information in the strangest of places—if you had told someone that you knew what the C5 Corvette looked like before its January 6th, 1997 unveiling because you had trawled through the USPTO archives, you’d be arrested for breaking into a federal building. The Z/28 was a successful surprise, but just barely: as a trim level it simply built off the fevered rumors of the past, while the entire 2014 Camaro range was teased—yes, there’s that odious word again—by GM itself.

Manufacturers don’t have to play this game. Auto shows are nothing if not for the surprise, which is the overarching narrative that gives our "War On Teasers" such merit. Teasers play to the carefully orchestrated PR game that unbiased journalists want to rise above; private unveils before press days are as un-egalitarian as it gets. (Ask the guy that’s been trying to get into a Jaguar event for the past 5 years.) But it’s the auto show press conference that holds the most opportune moment for a big surprise, a grand unveil: something to send the SEO buzzing and the hashtags spinning around and across the world, carrying with it our unbridled enthusiasm and all-too-human love of drama. Information should fly out with a bang, not with a trickle as it does through weeks of insipid teasers. Where else to do so than at an auto show, in front of a captive audience?

Because when the CEO stops blathering, the celebrities get off-stage, the lights go down, the music swells, the lasers start flickering, and the curtain folds back, it’s almost enough to make one excited for the 2014 Toyota Highlander.

What’s the point of an auto show?

On the morning of Tuesday, March 26th, hosts Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan pulled the wraps off the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro on their eponymous morning talk show, mere hours before the start of the 2014 New York Auto Show. Across town, and on the same day, Cadillac unveiled the CTS—arguably the most anticipated car of the show—at a private event in the Frederick P. Rose Hall in Midtown. (They might not have needed to, anyway: photos leaked a day early.) Audi previewed its 2015 A3 and S3 sedans—cars that won’t go on sale until next summer, but that’s a rant for a different day—that evening, and for one night only! The two cars didn’t even squish the tiles on Audi’s stage the next day, which was probably convenient as Audi chose to skip a lavish press conference. It did have plenty of Warsteiner on tap, however.

Then the auto show began anew on a beautiful East Coast morning as journalists streamed in to the Javits Center by taxi and train and subway and chauffeured Land Rover and rickshaw and tramp steamer, bleak and bleary-eyed and in perpetual search of coffee, ready to spend the next two days writing about new cars that have already been announced. And after 6 Starbucks Venti lattes and about 3 plates of deep-fried crab cakes (the chosen hors d’oeuvres of New York, apparently) later, the one incessant, nagging question floated across our minds, and into the ether: if everything’s been unveiled, previewed, and leaked already, why even have an auto show?

Yes, why have an auto show? Why fly across the country to rehash the same press releases, attend the same precisely choreographed press conferences, talk to PR teams who mete out the exact amount of information they were briefed to say, and see the same cars that had clawed their way out of an errant email attachment? Why bother having an unveil if the car will merely be shown the day before to a handful of specially-invited journalists—out of the thousands, internationally, that attend these things—and will be across the Internet by morning? The surprise, the furtive secret, is what we talk about in hushed and reverent tones of auto shows past: Citroën in Paris in 1955, Lamborghini at Geneva in 1966, Dodge in Detroit in 1989, Holden in Sydney in 2005. We miss those days, we hanker for the romance, we want our minds blown, we want to interview a brash CEO like Bob Lutz, but we’ll never get those back.

But most of all, we just miss the surprise.

There were some surprised, truth be told. Subaru showed off a WRX concept that managed to break away from its proud tradition of ugliness but will fortunately disappoint when it enters production, burdened as it will be with platform readjusting, gawky proportions, and door handles. Chevrolet followed up on the Camaro with exactly what the world needed: a faster version, stripped-out and barely street legal, with a Corvette Z06 engine and one speaker—exactly like the one buried in the backyard behind your uncle Jimbo’s house. Natty Boh sold separately. Not that GM would condone drinking and driving; and besides, nobody at the New York Auto Show was driving except for the fresh-faced youths in golf carts that were shuttling journalists from the media center across the Javits Center, so encumbered were they with traversing the elephantine hall with cameras and notepads and laptops and battery packs in tow, like Hannibal across the Alps.

But that was about it for genuine whoa that came out of left field, time to tweet with lots of hashtags surprises. The WRX leaked on Tuesday, two days before its unveil, an occurrence so common it’s practically built into the auto show schedule, and sometimes even "leaked" by carmakers themselves. They haven’t found out that that’s, uh, usually called a "preview." Surprises are tough to pull off, leaks are inevitable, and the Internet gives us the ability to hunt for information in the strangest of places—if you had told someone that you knew what the C5 Corvette looked like before its January 6th, 1997 unveiling because you had trawled through the USPTO archives, you’d be arrested for breaking into a federal building. The Z/28 was a successful surprise, but just barely: as a trim level it simply built off the fevered rumors of the past, while the entire 2014 Camaro range was teased—yes, there’s that odious word again—by GM itself.

Manufacturers don’t have to play this game. Auto shows are nothing if not for the surprise, which is the overarching narrative that gives our "War On Teasers" such merit. Teasers play to the carefully orchestrated PR game that unbiased journalists want to rise above; private unveils before press days are as un-egalitarian as it gets. (Ask the guy that’s been trying to get into a Jaguar event for the past 5 years.) But it’s the auto show press conference that holds the most opportune moment for a big surprise, a grand unveil: something to send the SEO buzzing and the hashtags spinning around and across the world, carrying with it our unbridled enthusiasm and all-too-human love of drama. Information should fly out with a bang, not with a trickle as it does through weeks of insipid teasers. Where else to do so than at an auto show, in front of a captive audience?

Because when the CEO stops blathering, the celebrities get off-stage, the lights go down, the music swells, the lasers start flickering, and the curtain folds back, it’s almost enough to make one excited for the 2014 Toyota Highlander.

Apple puts age ratings front and center on app product pages

The old App Store app page layout, left, and new layout, right.

Apple has pushed the age ratings for its App Store apps to the top of the product pages in an effort to make buyers, especially parents, more aware of the type of content they’re getting. The age ratings are now directly below the app-maker’s name, and they sit above the user ratings.

Apple has faced some disgraces lately with apps that have gained the spotlight only to blindside unexpecting users with adult content. The short-video sharing app Vine was featured as an App Store Editors’ Choice shortly before porn surfaced within the app’s Editors’ Picks; the image-sharing app 500px was also yanked for its pornographic pictures. Both apps now have a 17+ rating slapped on them.

While Apple’s new prominent app ratings won’t solve the unpredictable-user-generated-content problem, they will get parents and guardians to pay more attention to what kinds of apps they are downloading. This change also follows Apple’s addition of an “Offers In-App Purchases” label to app product pages to help account-owning parents anticipate which apps will allow their kids to wantonly bill items within an app—before they get the credit card bill.

Read on Ars Technica | Comments

Apple’s Spaceship HQ Is Getting a Downgrade From Absurd to Just Plain Extravagant

Back in 2011, when Steve Jobs announced his plans to build a spaceship-like Cupertino HQ for Apple, we all knew it was going to be one ridiculously lavish office. But according to Bloomberg Businessweek, it’s due for a bit of a downgrade before construction starts this June. It’ll still be crazy, just not totally absurd. More »


Alexander Rossi on his first meeting with Jim Clark’s incredible Lotus 49

The centerpiece of our May 2013 relaunch issue is ex-Jalop John Krewson’s cover story, Fast, Present, Future, in which Alexander Rossi drives the forever racecar, Jim Clark’s iconic 1967 Lotus 49, and pits it against America’s ultimate weapon, the Corvette ZR1, in Austin at Circuit of the Americas.

Now we’re ready to start giving you the stuff you can’t read in the magazine: like Rossi talking about what that first encounter with the 49 was like. The video is up at Road & Track.

More to come.

Asus Ai Charger Quickly Charges Your iPhone or iPad Over a Regular USB Port

Asus Ai Charger Quickly Charges Your iPhone or iPad Over a Regular USB PortWindows: Asus’s Ai Charger is a free utility that finally lets you charge the iPad from your PC’s USB port, which otherwise doesn’t offer enough juice to charge the tablet. Ai Charger also promises to charge iPhones and iPods 50 percent faster using standard USB ports.

Blogger Matthew Hunt posted this chart comparing charging time for the iPhone 5 with Ai Charger versus USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and the wall charger. In this test, Ai Charger is about as fast as the wall charger!
Asus Ai Charger Quickly Charges Your iPhone or iPad Over a Regular USB Port

Ai Charger apparently works by sending up to 1.2A through the USB port, so charging your iPad via USB won’t be quite as fast as through a wall charger. Still, this means you can travel with your laptop and iPad and leave behind the power brick if you want to.

Asus says the Ai Charger works with all motherboards and systems, but because it’s hacking the power going through the USB port, this is a use-at-your-own-risk utility and your mileage may vary. After installing Ai Charger on my Dell laptop, my iPad went from “Not Charging” to charging up. Some folks over on XDA Developers are even reporting the utility works on some non-Apple devices.

Asus Ai Charger | via PCWorld

The Gadget Show Live, April 2013: Technology in the UK

On Tuesday this week I went to The Gadget Show Live, a trade and public show about technology and entrepreneurs in the UK.  There are some interesting developments in home grown talent…

The Gadget Show Live, April 2013: Technology in the UK

On Tuesday this week I went to The Gadget Show Live, a trade and public show about technology and entrepreneurs in the UK.  There are some interesting developments in home grown talent…

The Gadget Show Live, April 2013: Technology in the UK

On Tuesday this week I went to The Gadget Show Live, a trade and public show about technology and entrepreneurs in the UK.  There are some interesting developments in home grown talent…

The Gadget Show Live, April 2013: Technology in the UK

On Tuesday this week I went to The Gadget Show Live, a trade and public show about technology and entrepreneurs in the UK.  There are some interesting developments in home grown talent…